Courtney Faith Vera of Washington, D.C. has been associated with the United States Armed Forces her entire life, first as a Marine Corp “brat” and then as a California Army National Guard spouse with children. She was then the Family Readiness Group Leader for the 79th Brigade Special Troops Battalion and Bravo Company, 79th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, and works to bring awareness to the public about military service men and women and their families. Her husband Raymond says she’s a bundle of energy with a passion for helping troops, veterans and their families. She’s 1/2 of the Fave Parenting Duo.
You should know that Faith knew Jared Monti and had met him right out of high school. He was friends with her friend stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, NC. She hadn’t talked about SFC Jared C. Monti in a long time when a soldier from Monti’s Team was now in her husband’s command and as the MPOC (Military Point of Contact) for the company she got asked how she knew the Montis.
She fondly refers to SFC Jared C. Monti as a “Robin Hood for Children” and if you ever are fortunate enough to speak with anyone that served with him or knew him, the explanation is self-explanatory and quite humorous. Courtney Faith Vera tells her story about SFC Jared C. Monti below in her words.
Sergeant Garner from Bravo Company, 79th Brigade Special Troops Battalion and his Baby-to-Be’s mother headed to a Southern California hospital earlier this month for the birth of their first child, a son with a special name: Jack Monti Garner. Jack is special because he is named after Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti, who lost his life while desperately trying to save a fellow soldier who lay wounded and helpless.
SFC Monti’s legacy will live on forever. Not just through family and friends but through his namesake, Jack Monti Garner. Little Jack is the 4th namesake of SFC Jared C. Monti.
The tie between Sergeant Monti and Sergeant Garner, who is based in Escondido, can be traced back, but June 21, 2006 — a horrendous day in Afghanistan on a mountain — is what stands out.
Recalling that day, Sergeant Garner has said bullets and rockets whizzed by so close they ripped his weapon right out of his hand. He used his body to shield radioman Sergeant Chris Grzecki as he called in air support.
Sergeant Garner and Sergeant Grzecki were two of 16 soldiers from the 3rd Squadron, 71st Calvary Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division who were supporting a much larger group 2,600 feet below them.
Suddenly, the 16 soldiers heard enemy fire lighting up trees above the ridge they were holding. Mortars were raining down and there was no visibility.
When the smoke began to clear, one could see Private First Class James lying on his stomach. He was seriously wounded.
Staff Sergeant Patrick Lybert was already dead.
An RPG had torn through Private Bradbury’s arm.
Monti wasn’t giving up and he wasn’t going to allow his soldiers to either. He called in artillery and airstrikes, but Bradbury’s cries were getting weaker. His man was slipping away.
“That’s my guy. I am going to get him.”
He would not make it back. On his third and final attempt to save his soldier, Sergeant Monti fell into a vicious storm of RPGs and bullets just feet away from Private First Class Bradbury.
Sergeant Monti’s last words: “I’ve made my peace with God. Tell my family that I love them.”
Finally, the remaining soldiers heard air support arrive and the Taliban force begin to retreat.
Staff Sergeant Cunningham and Private First Class Smith accounted for the soldiers, including Private First Class Bradbury. He was seriously wounded but alive and able to communicate. He was going to make it.
When the medical helicopter finally arrived, a stretcher was lowered down. With Staff Sergeant Heathe Craig, a medic, by his side, Private First Class James was placed on the stretcher and hoisted into the air into the helicopter.
Staff Sergeant Craig came back down for Private First Class Bradbury, who was going to survive and live the legacy of the heroic efforts of Staff Sergeant Monti on that mountain.
The two were being hoisted into the air, but what happened next was unimaginable and unthinkable. All the soldiers heard after the most horrific night of their lives was a loud thump. The hoist on the stretcher snapped.
Staff Sergeant Craig and Private First Class Bradbury fell to their deaths.
There is no happy ending to this story. President Barack Obama contacted Jared Monti’s father, Paul, to let him know his son was being posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class and would receive a Medal of Honor. On September 17, 2009, President Obama in a formal ceremony at the White House presented the Medal of Honor to the Monti family.
Sergeant First Class Monti was the sixth man to receive the Medal of Honor in the War on Terror and the second in Afghanistan, after Navy Seal Lt. Michael P. Murphy. All were posthumous, until recently, but there is no comfort.
Paul Monti said, “I’d much rather have him than any medal.”
I know there are no words to express the gratitude to the Monti family, but they can take pride in knowing that a comrade thought so highly of their son that he named his first-born after him.
Celebrate the Military Child exists for this reason. They may be gone, but they will never be forgotten.